FAIRVIEW PARK, Ohio (WJW) — A local family who lost their son almost three years ago is now making sure that students in their community have a place to cope with the stress and anxiety of returning to school.
“I think about him every moment of every day,” said Rick Haney, father of John Haney, a 2012 Fairview High School graduate.
John was a popular high school and college football player. He took his own life in November 2017.
“My son was happy, joyful, go-lucky, and the life of the party,” said Haney.
Rick and his wife Beth are honoring John’s memory by creating a safe space that is available to all Fairview Park students. It is a place where kids can go for comfort and to decompress.
“We thought the best place to start is where my son loved to be. He was a Fairview Park Warrior,” said Haney.
Since John’s death, Rick and Beth decided to create the John C. Haney Memorial Foundation, an organization that helps raise awareness regarding mental health issues.
Tuesday, the ribbon was cut on John’s Safe Place, space conveniently located between the high school and middle school.
The room includes comfortable seating, a large fish tank, and sensory activities. Counselors and student mental health education resources are also available.
“It is teaching them to cope and let them know that it’s okay if they are feeling down or depressed. That’s why we started this. We wanted them to know it’s okay to feel down or depressed,” said Beth.
The Haneys say John’s Safe Place is needed now more than ever as students deal with the stress and anxiety of going back to school in a pandemic.